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"There must be security for all or no one is secure.",
This review is from: Day Earth Stood Still [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is a prime example of how well science-fiction films excel in examining universal issues. The proliferation of nuclear weapons following the end of World War II spawned this cinematic treatise on the new dangers the world had to face in the atomic age.
A flying saucer touches down in Washington D.C. and is immediately surrounded by armed troops. A hatch on the saucer opens and a figure named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) emerges. After he is shot by a nervous soldier, his robot companion Gort (Lock Martin) destroys some of the weaponry gathered around the saucer. Klaatu halts Gort's destructive spree and is taken to a nearby hospital. He soon escapes after making no headway in his plan to assemble the leaders of the planet to listen to a message he wants to deliver. With the help of a young boy named Bobby Benson (Billy Gray) and his mother, Helen (Patricia Neal), Klaatu makes contact with Professor Jacob Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), a respected mathematician, who he hopes will assemble for him an audience of the world's leading academics.
While other science-fiction films of the period were content with one-dimensional storylines complete with rubber-suited monsters and spaceships straight out of model kits, Robert Wise proved that the genre had much more potential. He avoided silliness and absurdity and instead infused his film with meaning and food for thought. Much like the television series "Star Trek" did a decade later, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" used science fiction to explore the human condition and to critique the puzzling obsession the human race has with total annihilation. Rennie's stoic performance is chilling because of the weight behind Klaatu's message. Gray, Neal, and Jaffe also turn in great work and more than manage to keep from being overshadowed by Gort. Although it is rarely referred to as a "Cold War" film, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" nevertheless effectively captures the nuclear anxiety and political grandstanding that characterized the early Fifties.